Consumer Identity Augmentation: the Symbiotic Relationship Between Self-Extension and Self-Expansion

In this research, we argue that two theoretical constructions of augmenting identity, self-extension (Belk 1988) and self-expansion (Aron, Aron, and Smollan 1992; Aron et al 1991), are cited similarly by two different literatures (Belk in consumer research, Aron in psychology), but actually represent two distinct strategies for growing identity beyond the corporeal self. We find that consumers extend their identities by making active attempts to share their consumption relationships with close others (Belk framework), and can also expand identity by enveloping a close other’s consumption relationships and making them their own (Aron framework). Finally, we offer the term identity augmentation as a term to encompass the two different strategies.


Paul M. Connell and Hope Jensen Schau (2011) ,"Consumer Identity Augmentation: the Symbiotic Relationship Between Self-Extension and Self-Expansion", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9, eds. Alan Bradshaw, Chris Hackley, and Pauline Maclaran, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 64-65.


Paul M. Connell, Stony Brook University
Hope Jensen Schau, The University of Arizona


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 9 | 2011

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